Which is a better Pre/Pro: Denon 3803 or Outlaw 950?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Mike Sloan, Oct 23, 2003.

  1. Mike Sloan

    Mike Sloan Second Unit

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    I am setting up a HT for a friend and considering the:
    Swan (Diva) 5.2 (Front L,R)
    C3 center speaker
    R3 surround speakers
    SVS PB2-ISD
    Denon 3803

    My problem is that I don't think that the Denon has enough power to adequately drive the speaker package at near ref. levels in a large room. I looked at the Outlaw Audio 950/M200 mono-block package and it seems promising. On closer inspection, it appears that the Denon 3803 may have a better Pre/Pro section than the 950. Any comments on whether I should purchase the 3803 and 3 of the Outlaw monoblocks for the front channels...and let the Denon amp section handle just the rears?
     
  2. Chuck Kent

    Chuck Kent Supporting Actor

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    I've never heard the Outlaw 950. But I was in a similar position as you are and I chose the Denon.

    As much as I admire Outlaw, the 950 just had too many birthing pains for me. The only thing the Outlaw offered that the Denon couldn't better was the flexible crossovers. So I added an Outlaw ICBM between my 3803 and my amp and now I have, IMO, the best of both worlds. (I already had my amp before I bought the 3803. It's a 5 channel THX Carver.)

    If the Denon is only driving the rears, it's power supply would be able to do a better job for those speakers than it would under normal circumstances. (Driving 4 speakers when built for 7...) If you go this way, you could always try 3 monoblocks and add more later if you thought you need to.
     
  3. Bill Polley

    Bill Polley Second Unit

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    I will keep my 950 for many years (it replaced my 1986 NAD 7175 PE receiver). I like the NAD type look that others hate, and I LOVE the Outlaw sound! I checked out the Denon, among other HT recievers in the same price range, and found that they had more ... everything. EXCEPT the flexible crossover and 5 year warranty. I thought about what I would really use the pre/pro for, and decided that I needed DTS and Dolby Digital, Pro Logic II for TV sound, and stereo for music. Multi-channel music (SACD and DVD-A) is a possibility later on, and the 950 handles it.

    I tried the 950 in my home and kept it over the HT receivers I tried. The 950 is dated by October 2003 standards, but so was everything else I tried out a year ago. If you want the latest thing, the 950 is not for you. If you want a fantastic bargain for a great sounding pre/pro with a 5 year warranty and the best customer service in the industry, you would do yourself a great dis-service by not auditioning the 950.

    After 13 months I am still giddy about the 950...kind of the same feeling I get every time the beast awakens in my SVS!
     
  4. CurtisC

    CurtisC Second Unit

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  5. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    I dont think in HT performance you could tell the difference between the two.
     
  6. NickSP

    NickSP Supporting Actor

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    Hi, I have tried many receivers as prepros and some dedicated prepros (5.1 only) and I came away with the impression that when it came to movies, the prepros and receivers were much alike although while everyone including myself say that movie shouldn't matter, I have concluded that even for movies prepros are slighlty better but prepros are definitely better for movies. I am also begining to buy into the theory that receivers do not make as good a prepro as does a dedicated prepro. After going much back and forth for a long time on this issue, I have concluded that a prepro is a true seperate component with better results than a receiver used as a prepro.
    With that being said, I still maintain that a receiver when used with robust external amps will sound better than a receiver's own internal amps. If you have the budget to go with the Outlaw combo then I would vote on that.
    I personally have gone back to using my 5.1 prepro after trying many a receivers and although I was impressed on initial listening, I wanted to go back to my prepro. I am now waiting for the NAD to arrive. Good luck!
    $.02.
     
  7. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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  8. Mike Sloan

    Mike Sloan Second Unit

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    Just "paper" comparisons and correspondence on the "outlaw" forum. The sticking points seem to be mostly ergonomic...however some have commented that the DAC's on the 3803 may be better, as well as "bandwidth" on the video switching, DTS 24/96 decoding? Still the 950 looks promising at it's price point.

    Getting back to MY question (Lewis)...which do you think would be a better Pre/Pro? I have talked to alot of people that have had great results with the Denon 3803/ICBM/7700(amp) package.[​IMG] I made the mistake of purchasing the 4802 (at list price) and now am considering an Amp purchase to bypass the very clean...but wimpy amp section in my receiver.
     
  9. Ricky T

    Ricky T Supporting Actor

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    Mike,

    From your other thread, I thought you were going to add a used 3 channel amp to your 4802? There are a couple of tri-mono Denon poa8300 amps on audiogon right now.
     
  10. Mike Sloan

    Mike Sloan Second Unit

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    Ricky T....I am interested in a 3 channel amp for my 4802...I'll go take a look over at audiogon. This new thread is for a friend that I am helping.
     
  11. Zack_R

    Zack_R Stunt Coordinator

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    Will the speakers be set to small?

    I'd be suprised, when using a subwoofer, that the Denon's amps would be struggling since the heavy amp lifting is being taken care of by the sub.
     
  12. Mike Sloan

    Mike Sloan Second Unit

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    I was surprised too...since the Denon 4802 is considered to have a robust amplification section...similar in architecture to the 5803. The 4802 is an awesome A/V receiver but it would be even better if it had some real horsepower. When trying to push full range speakers...or speakers with "multiple drivers" like the Rocket 750's or Axiom M80's...even crossing over at 80hz doesn't completely relieve the amp of "heavy lifting." There is a lot of violent activity at 80hz and above! Also, if you ever utilize "Pure Direct" or any form of pure analog mode...the crossover in the A/V receiver is bypassed and the speakers receive a "large" signal. A review of the 4802 by "Secrets of HomeTheater" sadly confirms my experience with my Denon. 4802 Review

    The 4802 is clean all the way up to it's Max limit and sounds great...but doesn't have enough brute power to approach ref level in my room...and we all know what clipping can do to voice coils!
    An interesting side note: The difference between the 5803 and the 4802 in power output is insignificant when you take into account the exponential relationship between dB and power. The AVR-4802 has a 20.97 dBW rating, compared to the 22.30 dBW rating of the (170W) AVR-5803 into an 8 Ohm load.

    So my inquiry:
    What Pre/Pro offers the same quality, ergonomics, and features of the Denon 3803 at $999.00....my first thought would be the Outlaw 950. Is the 950 better than the 3803 in this regard?

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Mike Sloan

    Mike Sloan Second Unit

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    Lewis, I see from your homepage that you own the 950. What are the pro's/con's based on youe experience? Any quirps with the unit? By the way....nice looking HT!!!
     
  14. Bill Polley

    Bill Polley Second Unit

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    The biggest gripe people tend to have with the 950 is the looks. Then they rag about the remote, which is a clone of a home theater master remote, which sells for about $80. They don't like the global tone and volume settings, wanting discrete settings for each input. Finally, they say that it is outdated, with better chipsets with more features being available today.

    I own the 950. When I look at how I use it...to watch tv, to watch movies, and to listen to 2 channel music, it is not just OK. It is fantastic! I was an owner of the 2nd generation, receiving mine just about a week after they restarted shipping in August 2002. I had Klipsch speakers and could hear the faint "hiss" problem. They switched my unit out free of charge for the newest unit. It is very detailed, dead quiet, switches every component I have without any problems, and does EVERYTHING that I want to do. There are features that I have never used, and probably never will. I set all the parameters to the best of my ability, and have not touched them since.

    I tried receivers before I bought the 950. If I remember correctly, the Denon, Sony ES, Yamaha, and Onkyo units were all a few hundred dollars more than the 950. I did not like any of them as much as the 950. Only the Harmon Kardon was as enjoyable TO ME as the 950. The 950 offered a 5 year warranty, which the H/K did not. That was the kicker.

    Call me a satisfied customer. I am sure there are many more like me out there...people you rarely hear from because they are no longer searching these sites to upgrade.
     
  15. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    Mike,
    I retired the Denon AVR-3801 for the 950,and mainly for the analog BM on the 6ch input.I also "gained" a bit better sound.To me the only "shortcoming" is the global channel level setting,but even that isn't a major concern but it could be for other users.The same goes for the "theater mode",which is similar to THX's cinema RE-EQ,if I switch it on it will affects all inputs,including the analog 6ch one.
    The 3803 is upgraded in every way from the 3801,so I can't really comment on it's performance.
    However if I would go by it's features and user friendlyness[a Denon trait IMO],I would go with the 3803 if I was for these on the market today.
    Having said that I won't retire my 950 for another receiver,I'll wait till they come out with the rumored "deluxe" Pre/pro.But to be honest I'm not on the hurry or itching to upgrade at all,Im very happy with my 950,and have great respect for the Outlaws,which is why I stick with them.
    Hope I didn't confuse you? [​IMG]
     
  16. Mike Sloan

    Mike Sloan Second Unit

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    Thanks Lewis.....I too have heard/read about the "deluxe" Pre/Pro that Outlaw has hinted at. I hope their pricing reflects the Outlaw philosophy of "biggest bang for the buck!"
    Looked again at your HT....now that's a subwoofer....SVS on steroids![​IMG]

    Mike Sloan
     
  17. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    Thanks Mike!
     
  18. MarkMac

    MarkMac Stunt Coordinator

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    OK, I've gotta know. Where have you heard about this Outlaw 950 "deluxe"?
     
  19. MichaelDDD

    MichaelDDD Supporting Actor

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    Mike


    *takes off headphones and listens intently*

    Lewis,

    I just wanted to say that your HT Setup is very impressive and you have a beautiful home. I like your HT very much. [​IMG] Nice monoblocks and that sub is out of this freakin' world! [​IMG]
     
  20. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    Thanks Michael![​IMG]
     

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